The British Science Association wants to empower many more people – not just scientists – to constructively engage in debates over science’s role in their lives, their local economy, and the UK’s future.

Our Future Debate series aims to find out what people think of a big issue in science and technology that could potentially have a significant impact on our society. This year, our series of Future Debates will focus on robotics and autonomous systems and are taking place all across the country.

Robotic and Autonomous Systems (RAS), such as driverless vehicles, self-checkout machines, and combat vehicles, are technologies that can perform actions without human guidance. Recent advances in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine vision and physical movement technologies have meant RAS are developing at an ever-increasing rate, presenting society with a vast number of challenges and opportunities.    

We’re yet to determine what effect these technological advances will have on society. Will we lose touch with our human relationships? Will we be at greater risk of cyber attacks? Will unemployment rise as people are replaced by machines, or will we be freed from repetitive work?

We need to make these decisions together as a society, so we’ve teamed up with our branches and other organisations across the country, to create local events which explore the potential problems and advantages of living and working with robots.

From Cambridge to Coventry, Belfast to Plymouth, we're inviting experts to discuss the future of automation and how this could affect humans throughout January and February, with the flagship debate taking place in London during British Science Week in March. 

Find your nearest event, watch our animation, and debate the future.